A few weeks ago I flew with my son who, as my dad put it best is, “All boy and all two.”
Two being the operative word. Two being the cut-off age for the free “lap-baby” pass afforded by the otherwise stingy airlines. And two being the times I’ve flown after my son’s second birthday.
But this last time was the last time, I swear.
Who knew the skills he’d develop in under a month since the last time we flew? And who knew all these skills would fall not under small or gross motor, verbal, or anything like that, but solely under the skill of mischief?
I knew it was a bad sign when, on the first leg of our trip, the little rapscallion escaped from the family bathroom (which opened to the terminal walkway), strolled out, and left the door wide open for all to witness me pee. My arrest for either indecent exposure or child neglect seemed inevitable as I yelled at my “infant” to come back, a wad of TP in my hand and pants around my ankles.
Luckily, it was New Year’s Day and there were only a few stray perverts ambling through the terminal, hung over and unconcerned with checking out my hairy legs or reporting me for either aforementioned offense.
In defense of my son’s behavior, he had missed his nap. I actually believed this missed nap was going to be a good thing. I thought it meant he’d sleep the whole flight. This turns out to have been wishful mother-of-one-infant-who’s never-actually-flown-with-a-full-blown-toddler thinking.
I weighed my luggage before leaving the house that morning, and just for fun, I weighed my son. Therefore, I can tell you with pretty good accuracy that instead of spending an hour flight with a limp, sleeping little boy in my arms and matching the smug look of my smug seat mate with my own smug looks of self-satisfaction and maternal-accomplishment, I spent the flight wrestling twenty-nine pounds of boy away from the stewardess call buttons, the heads of the people in front of us, the tablets of the kids next to us, and the window blinds (which my seat mate also didn’t appreciate as she had the window).
The empty promise of an apple juice by the flight attendant didn’t help matters. For one, it pissed-off my toddler. Secondly, he kept shouting, “Apple Juice!” with crystal clear enunciation. Something I doubt an infant would do.
At the end of the first leg, the flight attendant walked by us. Her eyes shot open as she let out a gasp.
I knew it. We were busted. Orange is the New Black here we come!
“Oh you’re just hot from…taking care of…him,” she said, giving me a knowing looking that made me worry exactly how much she knew.
Was I hot? I hadn’t even realized. I’m guessing my face, if it were anything like my son’s, was beet-red, and when I stood up I noticed my pants were soaked in sweat.
For the next flight with my yet nap-less and still seat-less young man, I decided to go along with the wrestling theme and held him in a move I like to call the “wiggle lock”.
I held on tight even as he tore the SkyMalls and safety pamphlets from the chair pockets and threw them to the ground along with my feeble offers of toys and Cheerios.
This seemed to cause the flight attendant a mini-breakdown each time she scurried down the aisle to grab a magazine and shove it back in the seat pocket. I felt bad for the mess and knew I wasn’t being secretly nominated for any parenting awards by the people around me, I knew without looking that I could have filled a bucket with all the eyes rolling out of their heads, but I was unwilling to release the wiggle lock at any cost.
By the time the plane landed, my illegal lap baby had finally passed out, his head stuck to my chest in a pool of sweat. Our jackets, sweaters, and most of the contents of my purse were scattered around our seat and I was at a loss of how I was going to gather everything without waking him.
Everyone had disembarked except us and the flight attendant eventually came to check if I needed any help. I asked if she’d hold my son for me. And it was while she held his sleeping bulk happily against her chest, freeing both my arms to put on my jacket and pack my things, that I couldn’t help but feel tempted to do one more lap trip.
I’ll just need to make sure to start pumping iron and maybe put some finishing touches on the wiggle lock.
Which I should have tons of time to do in prison.